A new study has found that postmenopausal women who have at least one sugar-filled drink a day have a 78% higher risk of developing liver cancer.
The study collected data from 90,504 postmenopausal women between 50 and 79 years of age over a span of about 18 years.
Researchers said 205 women developed liver cancer during the follow-up.
According to data, 7% of participants reported drinking one or more 12-ounce servings of sugar-sweetened drinks per day had a 78% risk of developing cancer. Women who drank at least one soft drink per day had a 73% higher risk, compared with those who never consumed these beverages or drank fewer than three per month.
“Our findings suggest sugar-sweetened beverages are a potentially modifiable risk factor for liver cancer,” said Dr. Xuehong Zhang, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.
“If our findings are confirmed, reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption might serve as a public health strategy to reduce liver cancer burden.”
Dr. Zhang noted that while the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has been on the decline, between 2017 and 2018, 65% of white adults reported consuming at least some sweetened drinks on any given day.
Zhang also noted that the recent study does not prove sugary drinks cause liver cancer, only that there is a link between the two.
Other researchers have called into question the validity of the study due to the number of limitations.
“The question is: What are the lifestyles of the people who consume at least one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day?” asked senior clinical nutritionist Samantha Heller.
“Is this population more likely to consume less fiber, fewer fruits and vegetables, and more likely to eat more red and processed meat, junk and fast food and less likely to exercise?”